State of the Blog – February 2021

This is something I’m going to start doing periodically, maybe a couple times per year. I want to reflect a little bit on what I’ve done, look forward at what I’m planning, and try to evaluate what’s working and what I want to change.

When I started this blog, I knew I wanted to write posts about craft, and I knew I wanted to post serialized fiction. I also had the vague idea that I’d like to document the process of writing as I do it. Beyond that, I decided I would figure it out as I went along.

Metrics

  • My first posts were in September, so the blog is about 6 months old.
  • I’ve made about 25 posts.
  • My readership is still quite small: less than 10 followers, averaging 1-2 views per day.

When I started, I had no particular schedule or planned topics, and my posts were pretty sparse and spread out. However, over the first couple months, I realized that I wasn’t very interested in journal-style posts. I like discussing the craft of writing, and if I’m going to do that I want to focus on a topic and dig into it.

Although I knew that I wanted to post serial fiction, I didn’t have a story ready to go. Some serial fiction writers advocated jumping right in blind. Others suggested finishing the whole thing before posting. Part of what I wanted from serial fiction was posting chapters as they were written, but I’m a prepper, and I didn’t think I’d be putting out my best work if I didn’t plan it out carefully. Between my day job, family, and other hobbies, it was going to be a while before I was ready to start posting chapters. Rather than quietly working for months in the background, this seemed like a good opportunity to document the process, as I was brainstorming and outlining.

Around December, all of this solidified into a posting schedule: two posts per week, with craft-focused or variety posts on Mondays and development journals for my serial writing project on Fridays.

I also began to write my posts ahead of time and schedule them. This allows me to post at consistent times of the week, even though I grab little chunks of writing time throughout the week. It also allows me to build up a buffer of scheduled posts. If something prevents me from writing for a week or two, or I just want a vacation, the blog keeps on trucking.

I’m currently keeping a buffer of about four posts (two weeks with the current schedule), but I’d like to get a full month ahead – about eight posts. As I get to that point, I may begin to introduce some smaller, ad-hoc mid-week posts. However, I’m ramping up slowly to avoid burn-out.

When I start posting chapters of Razor Mountain, they’ll take over the Friday slot. I expect to still write weekly development journals, but they’ll probably be much shorter when I’m already posting the chapter that resulted from that work.

Bloggery, Community and Readership

At this point, I’m relatively content to write for myself and send my bottled messages into the vast sea of the internet. In the long term, I’m not interested in writing only for myself. I want to grow my readership over time and get my writing in front of a larger audience.

A common refrain among content creators is that there are three main contributors to success:

  1. High-quality, original content
  2. Consistency
  3. Luck

The content is what I already spend the majority of my time on. I’ve got a consistent schedule, and plans to slowly expand that over time. And there’s not much to do about luck.

Beyond that, I’m looking at small ways to catch more eyeballs. I’ve read a bit about SEO and the interaction of WordPress tags and categories. I created a Twitter account (@DeferredWords) and set up automatic tweets for my new posts. I’ve also been finding and following other WordPress blogs to get a reader view full of good posts.

I’m probably not going to connect to other social media. Twitter is the only app I use with any regularity, and I don’t particularly want to support Facebook/Instagram.

Some community-building and cross-pollination will happen naturally through my comments on other blogs and my tweets and retweets. Some will come from search engines as I tweak my tags and categories and just continue to post on more topics.

Looking forward, I know I still have more work to do on site layout. I’ll be expanding the menu and possibly adding a few more widgets to make navigation easier and point readers to what I consider my best content.

Fiction

I want this blog to be my writing home on the web. However, I’m also planning to cross-post new chapters of my serial fiction elsewhere. Posting in multiple places adds more busywork, but it also gives me the opportunity to get more eyeballs on my work. WordPress is great, but it’s not necessarily the best place to gain visibility for fiction.

Right now, I plan to cross-post to Wattpad. This seems like the one of the largest open venues for serial fiction around today. It’s available on big and little screens, and it’s got a slick interface. I’m also thinking about Tapas for similar reasons. Tapas seems a little more focused on comics than novels, but still a good spot for serial fiction.

I’ve looked at a variety of other options. There are a few sites dedicated to fiction, and even serial fiction specifically, but some look pretty rough, and generally don’t seem to reach a very large audience.

There is some side work that I’ll have to do for these platforms as I get closer to actually publishing. I’ll need to write up things like an author bio and back-cover blurb, and I’ll have to come up with (or commission) a book cover.

To Be Continued

So far, the state of the blog is “small, but making progress.” There’s obviously room to improve. I’d love to have more content, but I’m happy to ramp that up slowly over time. There are design improvements to be made, but I’ll work on those bit by bit as well. I want my main focus to be consistent, quality content right now.

I think I’ll probably do another one of these around mid-summer. By then, I’ll be posting Razor Mountain chapters weekly. I’m excited to see how things are going in six months!